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Bill Russell to Receive Inaugural NBA Lifetime Achievement Award - This Is Sports Zone

Because he played in an era remembered by so few in today’s world, the career of Boston Celtics’ legend Bill Russell is often overlooked when a ‘who is the best player in NBA history’ discussion is broached. But his career will never be overlooked in the eyes of the NBA itself, as it was announced that the man who changed the way defense was played will be honored with the first-ever NBA Lifetime Achievement Award during the inaugural NBA Awards show in under two weeks. The Hall of Fame center and 11-time NBA champion with the Boston Celtics will be given the award by the NBA and Turner Sports, it was announced Thursday.

For all intense and purposes, Russell was the league’s first true superstar, and his presence transformed the Celtics into a franchise that is to this day known as one of the greatest franchises in basketball, and the world of sports. Thanks to Russell, the Celtics won the NBA Championship 11 times during his 13-year career, including a yet-to-be-duplicated eight straight from 1959 to 1966, which currently stands as the longest championship streak in any of the four professional sports. During that time, he won five league MVP awards, and while there were no Finals MVPs awarded, due to his leadership and play during his day, the league named the Finals MVP Award after him in 2009.

In his first NBA full season (1957–58), Russell became the first player in NBA history to average more than 20 rebounds per game for an entire season, a feat he accomplished 10 times in his 13 seasons. Russell’s 51 rebounds in a single game is the second-highest performance ever, only trailing Wilt Chamberlain’s all-time record of 55. He still holds the NBA record for rebounds in one half with 32 (vs. Philadelphia, on November 16, 1957). Career-wise in rebounds, Russell ranks second to Chamberlain in regular season total (21,620) and average per game (22.5), and he led the NBA in average rebounds per game four times. Russell is the all-time playoff leader in total (4,104) and average (24.9) rebounds per game, he grabbed 40 rebounds in three separate playoff games (twice in the NBA Finals), and he never failed to average at least 20 rebounds per game in any of his 13 post-season campaigns.

Russell also had seven regular season games with 40 or more rebounds, the NBA Finals record for highest rebound per game average (29.5 rpg, 1959) and by a rookie (22.9 rpg, 1957). In addition, Russell holds the NBA Finals single-game record for most rebounds (40, March 29, 1960, vs. St. Louis, and April 18, 1962, vs. Los Angeles), most rebounds in a quarter (19, April 18, 1962 vs. Los Angeles), and most consecutive games with 20 or more rebounds (15 from April 9, 1960 – April 16, 1963). He also had 51 in one game, 49 in two others, and twelve straight seasons of 1,000 or more rebounds. Russell was known as one of the most clutch players in the NBA. He played in 11 deciding games (10 times in Game 7s, once in a Game 5), and ended with a flawless 11–0 record. In these eleven games, Russell averaged 18 points and 29.45 rebounds.

In addition, Russell was the first of four players to win an NBA championship, college title and Olympic gold medal, with him later being joined by Henry Bibby, Magic Johnson, and Billy Thompson. He also went on to become the first African-American to coach a team in one of the major professional sports when he succeeded Red Auerbach as Celtics head coach (while he was still a player) in 1966.

The awards show will be June 26 in New York and be televised by TNT.

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